Category: Standing Committee Minutes

Jul 15 2008

June 2008 SC Minutes

Draft Standing Committee Meeting Minutes
June 10, 2008

Members Present: Carla Corey, Ron Deschenes, Debra Grad, Cornelia Kirkpatrick, Dave Seltz, Peggy Stephens-North, Tom Wight

Others Present: Joanna Paulsen as Treasurer-Elect, Carole Russell, Tom Coffey and Marybeth Bush as members-elect, Carlene Merrill as member of the Committee on Ministry.

Call to Order and Centering:

Debra asked that we each introduce ourselves and mention some of the leadership positions that we have filled.

Distribution of Material: Debra distributed the following materials to new members of the Standing Committee: The Standing Committee Handbook, updated By Laws, and The Human Resources Manual.

Executive Session: We adjourned into Executive Session at 7:20 PM to read and discuss the Minister’s Performance Evaluation. As allowed by Article 5, Section 5.4.4 the new members and member from the Committee on Ministry were asked to join us. We returned to the regular meeting at 9:00 PM.

We took some agenda items out of order.

• Nursery School Lease: Neal Lerer, a lawyer and husband of Rose Lerer, looked at the Lease and after reading his suggestions, Debra proposed that we keep the Option-To-Renew Clause in the lease and to add additional clauses. Debra will work with Neal to use language which makes it clear that the lease is not transferable to another owner of The Open Door Nursery should Janice Domey sell it.

The Standing Committee is aware that the Religious Education Committee made recommendations in March of 2008 that included, as a top priority, the recommendation that First Parish “discontinue rental contract with Pre-School as soon as practical, to permanently regain on-site classroom space.” The Standing Committee has determined that it is not practical to discontinue the lease at this time.

A motion was made and unanimously approved to reconsider the vote to remove the Option-To-Renew.

A motion was made and unanimously approved to accept the proposed changes to the original lease.

New Business:

• Sadie’s Request for General Assembly: Sadie asked to use some of the funds in her Professional Agenda Line for unexpected expenses associated with attending General Assembly. It was agreed that Ellen as Sadie’s supervisor can approve her use of the remaining available funds. Joanna will make sure that Ellen communicates with Cyndi.
• Covenant: There was discussion about the proposed covenant.

A motion was made and unanimously approved to endorse and promote this covenant:

“We, the members of First Parish of Chelmsford, covenant together to sustain and strengthen our beloved community by:
Honoring and celebrating the Spirit of Life
Nurturing all souls in our search for truth and the sacred
Caring and being present to one another in our joys and sorrows
Bearing witness through service to justice and peace
And being good stewards of our congregation, our heritage our Unitarian Universalist Principles and our earth.”

• Request for Church Use: We discussed the request by Deacon Anthony Silvia to use our church on a regular basis for his small, independent Gnostic Christian church. It was agreed that Leila could proceed after checking with the UU Haverhill Church where they met last.

• Cell Tower: Metro PCS has applied for a building permit and it has initially been denied. This is routine. They have communicated with Tom that they are still serious and moving forward. First Parish has not yet signed a contract.

Staff and Committee Updates and Reports:
• Minister’s Report: Ellen submitted her report and in it thanked outgoing Standing Committee Members for their service with a special thanks to Johan MacKenzie for her years serving as First Parish Treasurer.
• DRE Report: Sadie’s report was submitted.
• Church Council: One Faith in Action Grant was awarded to the First Parish High School class for students to participate in the “Relay for Life.” Another grant has been awarded to the Florence Crittendon Agency to help them attain their license for international adoptions.
• Standing Committee Chair and HRSC: Dave Kaffine is going to work towards making electronic funds transfer available for pledges.
• Staff Evaluations Update: The HRSC solicits feedback on and from each staff member. Trends are mentioned on the evaluation. The Standing Committee Chair approves the evaluations as SC representative, which Debra has done and then the employee, Ellen and HR Rep sit down to have discussion. There is opportunity for feedback and then the evaluations are signed off by the Standing Committee Chair. The goal is to get all evaluations done in June. Then the merit raises will be determined. Cyndi Bliss’ was done today.
• Lead Paint: Paul Taylor gave an update about lead paint during the Annual Meeting.
• Dishwasher: LRP is working on this issue.
• Safe Child Policy: This discussion was postponed.
• Check signers : First Parish checks can presently be signed by the Clerk and Treasurer. Carla asked if it would be a good idea to add a third person who can sign checks. Joanna will ask Cindy Gist about this issue.
• General Assembly:
A motion was made and unanimously approved that we appoint Brenda Rogers and Carla Corey as delegates to General Assembly in Fort Lauderdale.
• Dates for Standing Committee Retreat: There was a discussion about what dates provided a good chunk of time for a retreat, it should be a Saturday, a Sunday or two evenings. It was agreed that Sunday, August 3rd at 12:30 PM for four to six hours.

A motion was made and unanimously approved to accept the SC Special Committee Meeting Minutes for June 1, 2008.

Adjourn: The meeting was adjourned at 10:12 PM.
Respectfully submitted,
Peggy Stephens-North, Secretary

Jun 15 2008

May 2008 SC-Growth & Space Task Force Minutes

Joint meeting with the Task Force on Growth and Space and the Standing Committee Approved Meeting Minutes
May 16, 2008, held at 6, Granada Drive Westford 7-9pm.

Members Present: Carla Corey, Ron Deschenes, Debra Grad, Cornelia Kirkpatrick, Johan MacKenzie and Tom Wight.

Others Present: Members of the Task Force on Growth and Space-: Brenda Rogers, Fred Kaffine, (Dave Kaffine, guest), Cyndi Bliss, Chris Sweetnam, Joan Keene.

The group reviewed the Initial Report of the task Force dated March 2008. The group discussed the work still needed to be done and came to the agreement that the work falls into 2 separate categories as outlined in the amendment below. Ideally the Task Force structure will remain the same and the new Growth Ministry will consist of representatives from as many different demographics in the church as possible. Carla Corey, Deirdre Heck and Rev Ellen will seed the Growth Ministry. Chris Sweetnam, Johan McKenzie and Cyndi Bliss will seed the Task Force. A broad description of the difference between the scope of each group is that the TF will focus on structural change, the GM will address intellectual change. We need to be very intentional about asking people to join these 2 groups. The Church Council must also be closely informed and involved about and in this work. A timeline to guide the work should be developed.

A public announcement, perhaps at the Annual Meeting in the form of a resolution should be made. It will say:

“The 2008/2009 year at First Parish will be Growth Championship Year. We will extend the remit of the Task Force on Growth and Space and establish a Growth Ministry to promote and embrace it.”

05/16/08 Amendment to the Motion establishing a Task Force on Growth and Space

The Motion Establishing a Task Force shall be amended as follows in response to recommendations and discussion at a joint meeting of the Standing Committee and the Task Force of its Initial Report dated March 2008.

A separate Growth Ministry is hereby established and seeded by members of the original Task Force and augmented by additional invested persons. The purpose of the Ministry is to enthuse, listen to/address concerns of the congregation and note functional implications of growth, including spiritual and polity issues. The Ministry shall be a separate entity from the Task Force but may overlap in its scope and work. The two groups shall coordinate and communicate recommendations for change to each other and the Standing Committee. The two groups will present recommendations to the SC by March 1st 2009.

A motion was made to accept the amendment by Cornelia and seconded by Tom and the vote was unanimous.

Additional conversation followed about how the SC can lead this work. Debra explained the steps she sees as necessary and we noted that this work is similar to the leadership required during the Welcoming Congregation Ministry period.

Standing Committees as Agents of Change

Here is the list of suggestions describing how the SC can lead the Task force, the Ministry on Growth and the congregation in embracing and adapting to the opportunities and challenges that our growth in number of members and friends presents.

• The Task force and Growth Ministry must be on every SC agenda.
• SC meeting members must attend all workshops, cottage meetings or other events addressing growth etc. as leaders and to learn.
• The SC must educate itself about possible implications of change, e.g. read the Adding Worship Services booklet and other materials etc.
• The SC should be aware of the experiences of other congregations in becoming a church with 2 services, and who implemented other changes to cope with growth so as to prepare and be responsive to issues that will arise .
• SC members should speak knowledgeably and supportively to FP members about changes that may be implemented at FP.
• The SC must determine how we will articulate to the congregation the challenges and opportunities ahead and do it often in a number of ways e.g. announcements from the pulpit, SS and Satellite.
• The Task Force and Growth Ministry need, a key sponsor to lead it successfully through the process (This is Ellen and the SC)

Chris circulated the draft Architectural Review and asked everyone to read it and give him feedback.

A booklet titled “Adding Worship Services” was also distributed and everyone is asked to read it to educate themselves on this topic.

Debra thanked everyone for their work.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:10 PM.
Submitted by Debra Grad, Chair of the Standing Committee

Jun 15 2008

May 2008 SC Minutes

Approved Standing Committee Meeting Minutes
May 13, 2008

Members Present: Carla Corey, Ron Deschenes, Debra Grad, Cornelia Kirkpatrick, Johan MacKenzie, Ellen Rowse Spero, Dave Seltz, Peggy Stephens-North, Tom Wight

Others Present: Joanna Paulsen, and Chris Sweetnam

Call to Order and Centering:

Open Forum: There will be a joint meeting of the Standing Committee and the Task Force on Growth and Space on Friday, May 16, 6:30 PM at Debra’s house. Chris Sweetnam, as chair of the Task Force, was asking for a commitment from SC to provide leadership for growth and set up a ministry. Chris is presently writing a brief from the architect’s visit.

Review and Approve Meeting Minutes: Peggy reported that the March Minutes have been posted and emailed by Cindy Gist. The April 8, 2008 Meeting Minutes were not ready for approval. Peggy left the meeting before it ended and so she and Carla had to consolidate the notes.

Review and Approve Treasurer’s Report: Cash flow is fine. Minister’s Discretionary Fund has been increased from $488 to $810 as a result of some specific donations. Fidelity Investments is $57,000 because of the reserves and the T-Mobile money. That money will decrease as the bills start coming in for the oil tank removal, window replacement, and the stair repair in the attic. The $18,000 in the checking account is actually for next year, from early pledges. $23,000 of reserves has been identified for items to be voted on at the Annual Meeting by the congregation, the rest remains for emergency use. Balance Sheet: The money in the Fidelity Account – Ordinary Dividends is interest earned. The Maintenance Escrow will be used for small projects like installing the window in the Chapel loft.

A motion was made and approved to accept the Treasurer’s Report.

We discussed how we might in the future help parishioners attend GA.

Staff and Committee Updates and Reports:
• Minister’s Report: June 7-8thth is Gay Pride weekend and the Welcoming Congregation Ministry will be lighting the chalice at the June 8th Sunday Service and would like to have a collection for PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.) It was this time last year that we took a vote to become a Welcoming Congregation. Ellen will put an announcement in the Shooting Star to give people time to think about it.

A motion was made and approved to have a second collection on June 8th to benefit PFLAG.

Ellen is really excited about the covenant writing, there is a draft. Ellen has invited members of the Standing Committee and their families to dinner on June 14th as thanks for serving on the Standing Committee.

• DRE Report: Sadie discussed her credentialing and the restructuring of the Religious Education Committee.
• Church Council Church Council received a Faith in Action Grant Application for $200 from Katrina Munichiello for a fully accessible playground to be built in Westford, MA. The Church Council voted to increase the grant to $400.
• Standing Committee Chair and HRSC: Human Resources Sub-Committee has asked that all Standing Committee members complete a performance review form for Ellen which will be due to Cindy Gist by May 23. Also from HRSC came a request to continue with the practice of having performance evaluations for staff reviewed and signed by SC Chair.
• Nominating Committee Update: Marybeth Bush and Tom Coffey have accepted the nomination for 3 year Standing Committee terms. Carole Russell has accepted the 1 year position. Joanna Paulsen has been trained to become treasurer. Johan will be tremendously missed.
• Clerk: The Warrant was written and posted by May 9th (see attached Warrant.) It was disseminated as an email as well as posted. It was posted with 30 days notice, in accordance with our by-laws, because Article IV proposes changes to a by-law. There will probably need to be a by-law change for next year. The by-laws state that we are supposed to have a report by auditors by the annual meeting, but books are not closed so the language needs to change so that the report is due in September for the State of the Society Meeting. We need to define terms such as: “State of the Society,” “Annual Meeting.” We need to change the language to state that warrants may be emailed and/or mailed.
• Policies and Procedure Sub-Committee: Ron communicated with Leila about the fees that various groups give for use of the church during the year. Leila was going to look at what other churches charge. Ron, as Building Use Liaison is beginning to set up a process for tracking and recording fees for church usage.
• Welcoming Congregation Ministry: Nothing more to add.

Old Business:
• The Budget: Pledges are below our goal and so the Finance Subcommittee will have to make recommendations on where to cut the proposed budget for the Fiscal 2008-2009 Year. The Standing Committee has to approve the budget before the Annual Meeting. It has to happen before June 4th when Johan leaves to travel. Carla recommended that we pull out the membership fee for Interfaith Power and Light into a separate line item so that it is highlighted.
• Dishwasher: Kirk Kirkpatrick has ordered relays that will hopefully fix the dishwasher for the time being. As a back-up Kirk has found a $2,000 used dishwasher that has been refurbished. There are a number of sources from which we can get money. We have $32,000 in reserves, of which $23,000 has been earmarked. There are funds available where money can be borrowed that have to be paid back over time. It was felt that we need to do more research before purchasing this refurbished dishwasher.
• The Oil Tank: The oil tank is gone and it cost a little more than expected but there is no further clean-up involved.
• CPR Training: It was agreed that we would pay for CPR training with money from the staff development line item.
• Nursery School Lease: It was determined that the lease did not have to be signed before August 31, 2008 when it terminates. This allows for some more time to understand the legal consequences of the Option to Renew Clause. Debra will ask Leila if she knows any real estate lawyers who could help us with this contract and update Jan on our decision making.
• July 4th Breakfast Leadership: Rosemary is not sure if she and Caroline can commit to running the breakfast. Debra will ask again.
• New Cell Tower: Progress has slowed down on the new cell tower. Tom expects that they will start up again soon.

New Business:
• Budget: The budget is not ready. HR has to review their figures and the Finance Subcommittee has to meet. Presently the pledges are $13,000 short of budget figures.
• Safe Child Policy: There are a number of issues that are associated with the Safe Child Policy and it was decided to table this discussion for the moment.

Adjourn: The meeting was adjourned at 9:50 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Peggy Stephens-North

May 15 2008

April 2008 SC Minutes

Approved Standing Committee Meeting Minutes
April 8, 2008

Members Present: Carla Corey, Ron Deschenes, Debra Grad, Cornelia Kirkpatrick, Doug Long, Johan MacKenzie, Peggy Stephens-North, Tom Wight

Others Present: Joanna Paulsen and Brenda Rogers.

Call to Order and Centering: Peggy read two poems meant to be listened to back-to-back. The first “Fix” by Alicia Suskin Ostriker, from No Heaven, was about searching for meaning. The second, “Shoulders” byNaomi Shihab Nye urged us to care for each other in the way a loving father cares for his son.

Open Forum: Brenda Rogers attended Open Forum and informed us that she is going to General Assembly this year. There was discussion about different ways to pay for registration and the implications of each. We discussed whether or not in future years the church could pay partial or full registration fees for friends and members of First Parish to attend General Assembly. Brenda suggested that we might want to consider using cell tower funds for this type of activity while we have it. There was also discussion about whether or not the church could accept the donation of an item, like a car, allowing the congregant to get a tax break and then use the car as the church sees fit.

Review and Approve Meeting Minutes: Peggy reported that the February Minutes have been posted and emailed by Cindy Gist.

A motion was made and approved to approve the March 11, 2008 Standing Committee Meeting Minutes.

A motion was made and approved to approve the March 29th, 2008 Special Meeting Standing Committee Minutes.

Review and Approve Treasurer’s Report:

A motion was made and approved to accept the Treasurer’s Report.

Staff and Committee Updates and Reports:
• Minister’s Report: Ellen sent a brief report by email and mentioned that there were 19 new people of mixed demographics who attended her class for new members. At this point, no one from the Standing Committee was interested in working with the group crafting the covenant.
• DRE Report: We received Sadie’s report.
• Church Council: Cornelia reported that there was an interesting discussion at CC. Leila attended the meeting. There is a higher need for meeting space for church work than there is space. Leila emphasized how important it is for people to fill out a church use form and get on the calendar. There was a Faith in Action Grant application from the High School class and an $800 grant has been awarded to them for the WISH Project. The WISH Project was founded by Donna Hunnewell, who has been connected with First Parish in the past. The WISH Project is a “free” store in the Merrimack Valley and clients come only via referral. It has been very successful. There is one more CC meeting.
• Standing Committee Chair: Deb spoke with Rosemary about running the July 4th fundraiser this year. She agreed to speak with Caroline about it when she comes home from college. Deb wrote a lovely letter to the congregation about the postponement of the auction. She has not received any comments, positive or negative. Deb sent an email to the Lion’s Club approving use of the First Parish parking lot. That email is attached to these minutes.
• Task Force on Growth and Space: Chris wrote an email to Debra asking for a response to their report and relaying that the group identified two different aspects to growth, the physical space and the spiritual needs. The attendees of the recent Fiscal Summit agreed that getting an architect to look at our space was an important priority. There was discussion as to whether we should have a joint meeting with TFGS. Carla recommended that we all commit to thoroughly read their report so that we can comment. Carla suggested that the Standing Committee take the time to discuss among ourselves how we feel about growth. Cornelia felt that a conversation about going to two services might be the catalyst to allow the congregation to truly consider the implications to growth. Ellen has provided some people with a how-to-manual about adding worship services and Carla will be in charge of getting copies to all SC members. The recommendations that we could address this year financially are additional chairs for the sanctuary, an architectural review, and sandwich boards reminding people to park in places other than our parking lot. There was agreement to schedule an additional meeting to discuss and respond to the report of the Task Force. Possible dates include Friday, May 16th.
• Clerk: Ellen and Carla have written a letter to people who have not attended for a while telling them that they are missed and encouraging them to come back and join us. The SC expresses appreciation to Ellen for carrying most of the responsibilities for organizing and running the New UU Session.
• Secretary: The minutes from the February Standing Committee have been posted and disseminated. Carla will ask Cindy about dividing up the bulletin board.
• Human Resources Sub-Committee: Cindy Gist has been given a $1.50/raise and job title change to appropriately reflect the scope of her responsibilities. There is an increase in Cindy’s hours to 25 so that she can cover publicity duties. The total increase proposed by HR for staff will not be $20,000 as previously stated, but probably closer to $10,000.
• Music Committee: Peggy relayed that the Music Committee had some conversation about the addition of a third octave of bells and will consider it again in the fall. Some of the Senior Choir members were interested in looking into the purchase of risers to enable better sight lines when they sing in the front of the sanctuary. Risers would allow them to have a better view of Cyndi while singing and allow congregants to see all the choir members as well. Music Committee members did agree at their meeting to research risers as it was felt there was significant benefit to the church in general.
• Policies and Procedure Sub-Committee:

A motion was made and approved to approve the Disposition Policy. (Attached)

Ron will send a copy to Cindy Gist to add to the Policies and Procedures folder. Ron was asked as liaison from the Standing Committee to Building Use to review building use contracts with Leila, the Sexton. It was suggested that they look for groups who might be able to share the cost of using renewable energy.
• Welcoming Congregation Ministry: Carla had nothing to report.

Old Business:
• All Congregation Conversation on Commitments and Covenant: Everyone was asked to consider representing the Standing Committee in the group crafting the covenant. The event was well attended and included singing, dancing and excellent conversation. Thanks to Peggy for taking and posting pictures from the event.
• Third Fiscal Summit, March 29: It was a good meeting. The attendees reviewed the issue of the surplus and how to spend it. Some of the items prioritized to be covered by the surplus, such as the front door and shutter repair, were now covered by line items in the budget. There was agreement to continue to fund sabbatical, and using $4,000 to fund a social action project. The recommendation from those present at the Fiscal Summit was that the remaining money from the surplus should be used to fund an architectural review, purchase chairs and revamp the choir loft. This group also reviewed the fiscal calendar and listened to Chris Sweetnam’s summary of the report produced by the Task Force on Growth and Space.
• Review and Approve ‘HR Manual: Revision date was changed to April, 2008 (although the footer is inaccurate) and Cindy Gist’s job title was changed to Congregational Administrator. Some additional items were added to the manual today as it is a work in progress, they include: a line item to the DRE section stating that in the absence of a Youth Program coordinator the DRE will assume those tasks.

A motion was made and approved to approve the revised Human Resources Manual

• Nursery School Lease: Carla and Debra had a meeting with Jan Domey last Tuesday. She has been an excellent tenant. She appreciated the changes put in place particularly the ability to store her toys under the stairs next to the kitchen and the addition of the divider on the stage. There was discussion about the lease and the OPTION TO RENEW clause. It was suggested that this clause needed to be removed to give the church options on use of the space. There was discussion about an additional 25% raise in rent to $9,375/year. Debra pointed out that a raise in her rent makes her more indispensable to the church. Jan said that she would like to get a sense of where we were ultimately headed with regard to rent. She plans on staying and is fully enrolled. Jan pointed out that without the OPTION TO RENEW clause it makes her business less valuable to potential buyers should she wish to sell. Debra emphasized to Jan that we recognize what a valuable relationship we have with the Nursery School.

A motion was made and approved to remove the OPTION TO RENEW clause in the contract with “The Open Door Nursery.”

A motion was made and approved to increase the rent of the Open Door Nursery by 25% to $9,375/year.

• Historic District Commission letter on temporary signage: Debra has not received a letter requesting information on our temporary signage. Ellen said that we are responsible for sending them a letter.
• New Cell Tower: Nothing new to report on the cell tower.
• Insurance Review Team: Marisha Rowse put Debra in contact with a member of the Littleton UU Church who is willing to look at our contracts pro bono.

New Business:
• Budget: The finance sub-committee has met to review the budget. The Green Ministry would like us to use 100% renewable energy. The two budget hearings will be held on May 4th and May 18th after the service. Johan will ask Cindy to advertise.
• Canvass: No discussion
• Child Care Policy: This discussion was deferred to when SC could have a larger discussion about Policies and Procedures.
• Diswasher – May Breakfast: The dishwasher is broken and the repair person came today but has not given us a report. If it is not fixed by May breakfast we will have to use paper products.
• Annual Reports Due Date: The Standing Committee suggest June 15, 2008 as the deadline for committee reports to be turned into Cindy Gist.
• Thank you to Doug Long: The Standing Committee would like to formally thank Doug Long for his service to the church and the Standing Committee during the past year.

Adjourn: The meeting was adjourned.

Respectfully submitted,

Peggy Stephens-North and Carla Corey
Secretary and Clerk

Standing Committee

The Standing Committee is the Church's governing board. The Standing Committee works to ensure the vitality of our community of faith. There are 10 members of the Standing Committee – nine voting members elected by the congregation and the minister, who is a non-voting member of the Committee. Standing Committee members serve a 3 year term.

The Standing Committee meets on the second Tuesday of the month at 7:00pm. Time is set aside at the beginning of every SC meeting as an open forum for members to bring forward any issues they would like to discuss.

The Standing Committee is responsible for the health and well being of First Parish. This includes maintaining communication among members and committees, managing Church property, and planning for the Church's short and long-term future. And of course members of the Standing Committee develop and manage the budget approved by the Congregation at the annual meeting.
The Human Resources Committee is a sub-committee of the Standing Committee.